Chariot of the Soul: Linda Proud

★★★★½

The end of September was an exciting but rather fraught period for me at work, so I didn’t get round to reading or writing anywhere near as much as I hoped. With the dawn of October, I could breathe a sigh of relief and lose myself in books once again, and the first one I turned to was a novel I’d been saving for a time when I could really appreciate it. Some of you will remember how much I enjoyed Linda Proud’s Botticelli Trilogy and her prequel A Gift for the Magus. I’ve been intrigued ever since I heard that her new book would take her into unfamiliar territory, in the mysterious and dark days of early Roman Britain. Now at last I’ve had the chance to curl up with Chariot of the Soul, and it was everything I’d hoped it would be: a sensitive, thoughtful book that looks at our small island and touches on very timely themes about identity, assimilation, compromise and confrontation with a great pan-European power.

Continue reading

A Gift for the Magus: Linda Proud

★★★½

You may remember that a few months ago I spoke of my admiration for Linda Proud’s wonderful Botticelli Trilogy, which follows the circle of painters and philosophers who gathered around Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence in the 1480s and 1490s. Her newly-published book, which can also be read as a standalone novel in its own right, forms a prequel to that trilogy. Looking back to the foundations of the intellectual and artistic world described in the Botticelli Trilogy, it moves between Florence and Prato over a span of some thirty years, from 1434-1469.

Continue reading

The Botticelli Trilogy: Linda Proud

★★★★

The three books in Linda Proud’s Botticelli Trilogy provide a powerful, moving and life-affirming insight into Renaissance Florence.  Essentially they are three instalments in the same book, so it makes no sense to speak of them individually: they need to be read and appreciated together.  Following the life and career of Tommaso de’ Maffei, the books begin with his boyhood and his journey to Florence, where he earns his living as a scribe.

Continue reading